Scoreless in St. Louis, the Dodgers drop NLCS Game 2

Game 1 of the National League Championship Series took me back to 1988. Now, with the Dodgers falling 1-0 to the Cardinals in Game 2, I’m taken back to the first two games of the 1981 National League Division Series, when the Dodgers followed a 3-1 loss at Houston with a 1-0 defeat.

Back in ’81, the Dodgers returned to Los Angeles knowing they needed to win three straight games against Bob Knepper (2.18 ERA), Vern Ruhle (2.91 ERA) and Nolan Ryan (1.69 ERA) to survive the five-game series and advance. That they succeeded might be small comfort to Dodger fans today, but maybe it’ll provide some hope.

Clayton Kershaw was magnificent this afternoon, but for the second time this week – and much more calamitously – he was victimized by his defense. After a leadoff double by David Freese, A.J. Ellis’ passed ball put the runner on third with nobody out. Kershaw had escaped a similar jam in the first inning, but this time, John Jay hit a one-out short fly to left field, and Freese tagged and scored easily while Carl Crawford made a hopeless throw home that was the spectrum opposite of Carlos Beltran’s Friday strike to nail Mark Ellis.

The big comeback opportunity for the Dodgers game right away in the top of the sixth, and was started by Kershaw, who singled against the otherwise dominant Michael Wacha. Crawford followed with an infield single, and both runners advanced to third on an error by Matt Carpenter. But Mark Ellis popped out, and after an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe struck out.

Puig struck out four times today and is 0 for 10 in the series.

I disagreed with the move to pinch-hit for Kershaw with two out in the top of the seventh and a runner on first, but it could have some long-term benefit for the Dodgers. At the time, it seemed poor because of how low the chances were that Los Angeles would score in that moment, even with a pinch-hitter, and how much more vulnerable the Dodgers would be to giving up a second run over the next three innings.

I would have reconsidered once Nick Punto advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch, but at the time of the move, the Dodgers were relying on singles hitter Michael Young to get the run in. (Crawford, the on-deck hitter, would have been facing a lefty in a fairly grim situation even if Young had gotten aboard.) The alternative would have been Scott Van Slyke, a power hitter but one who hasn’t batted in a game since September 29.

To me, removing Kershaw – who had thrown only 72 pitches and allowed three baserunners in six innings – was more dangerous than removing Adrian Gonzalez was after he had batted in the eighth inning Friday.

Nevertheless, combined with Zack Greinke throwing a fairly modest 104 pitches Friday, there is an opening for the Dodgers to again skip Game 4 starter Ricky Nolasco and come back with their two aces in Games 4 and 5. The theory would be if you win those games, you could go back to St. Louis needing one win to clinch, and then throw the whole staff at the Cardinals over the next two games.

I realize how fanciful that sounds as I type it – especially with Hanley Ramirez’s status questionable – but do keep your mind open. If the Cardinals can win a Joe Kelly-Greinke game, then the Dodgers can win a Hyun-Jin Ryu-Adam Wainwright game. I know it doesn’t look like it, but they can.

The Dodgers are on their heels now and the odds are against them, but there’s nothing to gain from giving up.

  • btimmer

    Baseball tends to not like things to be declared inevitabilities. The margins between the Dodgers and Cardinals are extremely narrow. The differences aren’t even strategic. Or because one team has a superior way of developing players. Each game is different. And there’s no point mopin’.

  • Adam Luther

    I figured that Mattingly, having utilized the services of a short-rested Kershaw (and the ensuing results) , would possibly do it again (win or lose today), to avoid a trip back to St. Louis. Now the return trip is inevitable even with Kershaw going again on Wednesday. That is day game as well with the shadows in play.

  • das411

    well if they have to make an injury roster move for Hanley…does anyone know what Nomar is up to these days…?

    • twaseverthus

      Actually, yes: he threw out the first pitch in Boston last night.

  • michaelgreenlasvegas

    I’m not giving up. But here is one of many reasons I never would have been a good baseball manager. If I were Donnie B., I would be tempted to announce that the pitchers would all be flying home to LA, but the starting lineup would walk. From St. Louis.

  • rumped6

    Outcome pretty much as expected. After two series this summer against QUALITY opponents
    (Red Sox, and, I think, Reds(?), both of which were competitive but lost by the then scorching home team, I did not buy LA as a championship fav. Could be pitched to, did not do many of the little things well, and had a less-than-convincing game strategist at the helm (how much input does Trey Hillman have?).
    Post-season will find you: rusty centerfielder (that was not a good decision in this kind of series,
    IMHO), left-fielder with bad arm, heart-of-the-order guy almost guaranteed to miss some games with injury, no discernible post-season (a la Beltran) stalwarts, Juan Uribe excepted. Thought, in particular, Adrian might struggle.

    Agree with much of the criticism of Donnie’s moves, but in the context of today’s game and the series, had to pinch-hit for Clayton, especially after the lefty was summoned (I wasn’t watching; was that the sequence?) Chance that was your last baserunner (it was). Chance the Dodger pen would hold the Cards (they did). So you had to at least try there. As poor as the odds on MYoung succeeding, they were much better than Clayton’s. (Any task more difficult than coming cold off the bench against a bullpen like current Cards?)

    I was wrong about Skip – thought he might be the surprise spark for this side.

    Yasiel doin’ under pressure what you would expect….so far:-).

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      You realize the Dodgers won the season series against the Cardinals, right?

      • DS1981

        He comes out only after the dodgers have had a losing stretch and repeats the same things. I believe the internet lingo for that is “troll”.

      • rumped6

        You realize some years ago the Mets beat the Scioscia Dodgers like a drum during the regular season, right?

        And I saw a lot of Michael Young in Philly this year; he still hits the gaps with authority from time to time.

        Nice weekend, Jon and all…

        • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

          I do realize that, which is why I don’t understand why you’d put so much stock into series against the Red Sox and Reds that were fairly inconsequential.

          • michaelgreenlasvegas

            Maybe he reads Plaschke. Maybe he IS Plaschke.

    • Casey Barker

      Puig hit 471 in NLDS- some pressure there.

  • DS1981

    Was a good season and i’m pretty excited for next year, however there are three things the dodgers should do to maximize the talent on this team. Fire Mattingly, first of all. On the radio a few days ago, espn radio i think, they were talking about Mattingly and they had some scout on who said that right now the game just moves too fast for him. I think that’s a perfect description of the situation. As a manager Mattingly is in that phase where he’s still learning how to be one. On the job training if you will. And that’s fine, but it should be done in the minors, not while managing the freaking Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Secondly, replace all of the current training staff (conte, falsone, etc.). Not because they’re doing something wrong. It’s just that this Dodger team is so incredibly injury prone that i don’t think typical baseball training staff is good enough anymore to keep these guys on the field. Try something different. Bring in some trainers from other sports perhaps, or somebody not from the sports world at all, try some alternative medicine, etc.

    And finally, upgrade at catcher. What many fans see in Ellis i just don’t know. He has a typical catcher’s noodle bat, which is fine if he was some defensive wizard, but he’s not as he’s
    shown time and time again. Fun cop Brian Mccann who’s a free agent would be a huge upgrade.The great thing is that unlike Peter O’malley, Fox, and Mccourt, this current ownership group obviously wants and can afford only the best for the Dodgers, so all of these
    things actually have a chance of happening.

  • scooplew

    Some perspective:

    —1955 World Series vs. Yankees: First two games at Yankee Stadium. Dodgers start Newcombe (20-5 in regular season) in first game and lose 6-5. Dodgers start Billy Loes (10-4) in second game and lose, 4-2. Dodgers win the Series, four games to three, for their only championship in Brooklyn. As a youngster in Brooklyn, It was my first year as a fan.
    –1965 World Series vs. Twins. First two games at Metropolitan Stadium. Dodger start Drysdale (23-12) in first game and lose 8-2. Dodgers start Koufax (26-8) in second game and lose, 5-1. Dodgers win the Series, four games to three.
    –1981 World Series vs. Yankees: First two games at Yankee Stadium. Dodgers start Reuss (10-4) in first game and lose, 5-3. Dodgers start Hooton (11-6) in second game and lose, 3-0. Dodgers win the Series, four games to two. Strike-shortened season.
    –2013 NLCS vs. Cardinals. First two games at Busch Stadium III. Dodgers start Greinke (15-4) in first game and lose, 3-2. Dodgers start Kershaw (16-9) in second game and lose, 1-0. It’s time to repeat history.

    Where there’s life, there’s hope.

    • Bob_in_Vegas

      Thanks, Scoop!

      • scooplew

        You’re welcome, Bob.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      … to quote Sam Cooke :)

      • scooplew

        Co-written by the late, great Sam Cooke, dead way too young (at 33) and now nearly 49 years ago, the song, “Rome (Wasn’t Built in a Day),” includes the following lyrics:

        “honey now
        How would Romeo feel if his Juliet
        Had turned down his advances and played hard-to-get
        He wouldn’t have let this bother him I know
        Because where there’s life there’s hope”

  • Alec Johnson

    Good game summary. We could nitpick all night, and tomorrow, about today’s game, but through 2 games so far, the Dodgers haven’t capitalized on their opportunities. The Cardinals have scored 4 total runs and lead the series 2-0, and as much as I want to point to Mattingly’s questionable decisions, those are not the reasons the Dodgers are down in the series. I would argue, however, that Mattingly didn’t help when he pinch ran for Gonzo out AND not electing to use Jansen to start the bottom of the 13th with the goal of using him for 6 outs. I’d be okay with buring Jansen knowing I have Kershaw throwing the next day. C’est la vie – plus it’s much easier to manager behind a TV.

    • ASW1

      …or in front of a TV…

    • WBBsAs

      Mattingly’s first-game decisions made it more difficult, if not exactly impossible, for the Dodgers to win. Tonight, there was little he could have done.

  • scooplew

    Through two games:
    Batting average: Dodgers .184, Cardinals .134
    RISP: Dodgers 1-for-16, Cardinals 2-for-8
    LOB: Dodgers 17, Cardinals 9
    ERA: Dodgers 1.33, Cardinals 0.82
    WHIP: Dodgers 0.74, Cardinals 0.95

    • skybluestoday

      Wow.
      Truly hard-earned, hard-edged, hotly-contested playoff baseball.
      Good stats — thanks!

  • John G. Blanchard

    Yeah, get a life, everyone. We lost 2 one-run games. This is not a galactic ass-whooping like ’95, ’96, ’04.

  • Adam Luther

    Wainwright is 1-2 at Dodger Stadium with a 5.16 ERA having given up 17 runs in 29.2 innings, and allowing 4 home runs…

  • Spence

    Too early to give up but if Ryu cant beat Wainright this season is over.

    • Bob_in_Vegas

      I get what you mean, but it’s the batters who have to beat Wainright, or whomever.

      All the Dodger pitchers — starters and bullpen combined — have pitched two “quality” games over these 21 innings . . . yet they’re 0-2.
      With 10,000 more fans than at Busch, hopefully the homecrowd energy will help fire up the Dodger bats. I know I’ll do my best to that end.

    • WBBsAs

      And when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

  • Casey Barker

    Tough double whammy today, huh Jon? I wish we’d see more Van Slyke-I wonder why we don’t.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      Brutal.

    • DS1981

      Have to disagree. Every time a bay area team loses an angel gets his wings.

  • ASW1

    The biggest pisser to me is, it feels like the Dodgers pitching has been more dominant that the Cards (the Dodgers have out-hit the Cards in both games) and yet the Dodgers are down 0-2. It is truly a shame to waste such good pitching performances.

    • DS1981

      When people say that baseball playoffs are nothing more than a lottery, that’s what they mean.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    Oh Jon same year…World Series down 0-2

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1981_WS.shtml

  • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

    I’m trying to remember whether Alston got fired after losing that awful Game Three in 1962 when he brought in Stan Williams to relieve Roebuck.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT
    • DS1981

      Well, from the time they moved to LA and until 88 it actually did come easy, at least compared to most other franchises. They were a pretty charmed franchise.

      • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

        only 5 WS in 29 years

        • DS1981

          Which as i said is pretty great compared to most other teams. And most important of all, they were MUCH more successful than the giants.

          • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

            I guess the 1st 29 years of my life spoiled me

          • Bob_in_Vegas

            Vin isn’t saying they’re not successful, just that it’s not easy. I think Jon’s post proves that.

    • Bob_in_Vegas

      Amen.

      You’re going Monday, right, KT? What if we met at the Brooklyn Trolley Dodger mural on the top deck at 4pm? I know that’s less crowded than the reserve level.

      • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

        Meeting a girl from MSTI at Guisados http://www.yelp.com/biz/guisados-los-angeles-3 who can’t make it into the game to sign a 6/22/13 game ball at 2:15ish.

        Are you reserve level? I ended up going up to the top deck 3 x’s last game and my knees hurt all week (still barking now). Those 6 flights of stairs are terrible and the elevator wait is so long

        I’m in Reserve section 29 row EE seats 14 / 15 Monday. I’ll talk to you tomorrow if you don’t want to meet at my seats

        • Bob_in_Vegas

          What time works for you at your seats?

          • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

            same time is good…I know I’ll be there by 3pm

          • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

            Bob I upgraded my seats…I’m going to go up to the reserve level at 4pm where are you going to be sitting or do you still want to meet at my old seats where a couple of friends will be sitting…up to you

        • Bumsrap

          ?

          Management Support
          Technology, Inc., (MSTI) is an
          ISO-certified, Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) –

          MSTI -
          California State University, Fresno

          Cancer Care – St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor
          Institute (MSTI)

          Math and Science Teacher Initiative | CSU

          Math and Science Teacher Initiative | SDSU

          MSTI Review
          Project – Independent Analysis of MSTI

          The
          University of Maine – Maine Summer Transportation Institute

          • foul tip

            Most likely someone from the Dodger blog Mike Scosia’s Tragic Illness.

            Which is very good.

          • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

            Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness

  • RBI

    Red Sox lost their first at home, 1-0. So there you go.

    • scooplew

      Boston was no-hit for 8.1 innings and struck out 17 times.

      • Bob_in_Vegas

        First time both LCS games were 1-0, so the Dodgers are part of history . . . on the wrong side of the score, tho!

  • Bob_Hendley

    We should dig down deep here, much like the undermanned Dodgers themselves. I know it is a place for dealing psychologically with the team, but there seems to be a surplus of bemoaning, whinnying and begrudging our players going on this site. Much more than I am used to (we normally reserve that for Ned and Donnie). We need to man and woman up. These are our Bums!

  • John_from_Aus

    We’ll just have to clinch away from home in game 6 or 7 :)

  • foul tip

    Dunno if Hanley plays elsewhere in the winter. If so, wonder if the Dodgers can prevail on him not to any longer so his body can recover and at least start next year 100%. Understood about the WBC. But that doesn’t happen next year, does it?

    • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

      once every 4 years

      • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

        Every three, I think.

        • btimmer

          The first break was 3 years, and from then on it’s supposed to be 4. 06, 09, 13

  • Bumsrap

    Puig was attacking pitches on the outside part of strike zone and now seems to be taking low and away strikes and that might be a good thing if it keeps him from swinging at low and away sliders that wind up out of the strike zone.

    Puig also seems to get more pitches that are low or inside called strikes against him. So, swinging at a low pitch out of the strike zone with the bases loaded and striking out instead of walking and forcing in the tying run is understandable. Just the same, Puig seems to be more aggressive with three balls than with less than a three ball count.

    • twaseverthus

      In what was otherwise a fairly quality AB, I think that low called strike 2 (out of the zone) doomed him to half-swing at strike 3.

  • 14hodges

    I came to Dodger Thoughts this morning to be encouraged. Thanks, Jon, for being so positive.

  • btimmer

    So from what I’ve learned, Yasiel Puig is the first player in major league history to have a bad two games and have difficulty making adjustments right away to the way he is being pitched. This is simply unheard of!

    • 4d3fect

      Inconceivable!

    • dalegribel

      Man, do I love your sarcasm. :)

    • WBBsAs

      It’s because he doesn’t play the game right!

      • Bumsrap

        But he does play it in right.

    • Bumsrap

      Umpires seem to like to call balls as strikes as if they were strikes against Puig. I have no problems with Puig letting the umpire know that they are not in agreement.

  • WBBsAs

    After two days, I’m not pleased, but the aggravation level was lower yesterday, partly because I couldn’t put it on Don. Given the time following the afternoon game, I was able to relax and sleep better last night. One of the reasons that all post-season should be day games.

  • dalegribel

    All things considered, including Mattingly’s predisposal to bunt (and the fans’ hatred of it) and Kershaw on third, the tone of the game seemed to make it appropriate to have Ellis squeeze, leaving two outs to get Crawford home from third.

    • WBBsAs

      Don loves every bunt except the squeeze.

  • DS1981

    Mattingly the wordsmith on Hanley Ramirez, “”For myself as a player, if you know you can’t do damage, it’s a
    different story if you can do damage than if you can’t do damage. It’ll
    probably be a pain thing, and the whole thing, we just have to just wait
    and see.” Now can someone translate?

    • foul tip

      It may have something to do with known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.

      Or the managerspeak equivalent.

    • WBBsAs

      Or Ron Fairly, talking about Kirk Gibson: “If you have speed, you can outrun your deficiencies with your ability to swing the bat.

    • foul tip

      “can someone translate?”

      Maybe Yogi Berra? Sounds like it’d be right in his wheelhouse.

  • scooplew

    Here are the comments by Mattingly on Ramirez posted on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website about 35 minutes ago:

    “So if he [Ramirez] can’t do that, [play through the injury] then him wanting to do it‑‑ so, I think, once we get the scan back and‑‑ once we get that back, you kind of know what you’re dealing with,” manager Don Mattingly said during a press conference this afternoon. “Just coming from my standpoint as a player, if you’re at a point where you know you can’t really do a lot more damage or if you can do damage, it’s a different story than if you can’t do damage, because then it’s a matter of, can you play? It’s probably going to be a pain thing and the whole thing. We’re just going to have to wait and see with him.

    “But I know Hanley wants to play,” Mattingly continued. “Like you said, he keeps continuing to tell me that he’s going to play, and that can only go so far though. He’s got to be able to play.”

  • foul tip

    Revealing Tweet from Bob T’s brother, who works for the Post-Dispatch, which cuts to the main problem for the Dodgers all year:

    Tom Timmermann
    ‏@tomtimm

    12 Oct
    As I wrote this morning, the Dodgers hit just .190 with the bases loaded, the worst in the majors.

    • btimmer

      That’s likely not the Dodgers biggest problem, but Skip Schumaker has done his part by going 1 for 14 with the bases loaded with no walks and no sac flies.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    For Bob_in_Vegas and anyone else that is going to the game tomorrow or Tuesday and wants to meet up…Let me know

    • Bob_in_Vegas

      Back on, KT. You wanna meet by your seats? I just read your other notes — I can meet you wherever . . . I like to roam before the game. I expect to be there by 3 or earlier, but 4 is a safe bet.

      • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

        I upgraded to Prime Ticket seats but I’m selling my tickets in the reserve to a couple of friends on MSTI, I have to meet another MSTI’er who is in the same row as my previous seats so 4pm at those seats are fine by me

        • Bob_in_Vegas

          OK — see ya . . . and let’s root them back on the victory trail!

          • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

            just like ’81 my last time I was in LA when they won it

          • RBI

            Hi KT (and B-i-V)
            I’ll be there tomorrow with son and family as well – 7RS, Row G seat 12-15. If I can get it together in time, I’ll come by at 4 to say hi as well! (Meanwhile, how ’bout them Tigers?)

          • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

            I’ll be coming up to section RS 29 row EE seats 14/15 or at the base at 4 pm…I’ll be wearing my signed Puig jersey…hope we can hook up

          • Bob_in_Vegas

            Sounds great– I’ll be in my Jackie Robinson t-shirt . . . it was good for victories in ’09 and last Sunday, so it’s washed and ready to go again!

  • scooplew

    After two innings tonight, the Red Sox, trailing 1-0 this evening and 1-0 in games, are hitting .031 vs. the Tigers in the ALCS. Kind of makes our .184 batting average look mighty.

  • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

    Game Thread, ALCS Game Two.

  • NoahUCLA

    I guess the Sox got the ending we were hoping for with 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th, including a David Ortiz grand slam. Let’s hope we can get 5 runs in the whole game tomorrow, let alone in 1 inning.

    • John_from_Aus

      That was incredible

  • Spence

    Killer loss for the Tigers but I still think they have enough to win the series. Their starting pitching has dominated the Red Sox so far.

    • WBBsAs

      Detroit’s ‘pen is awful, and Leyland made a LaRussian effort of overmanaging.

      • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

        Wait a minute. Detroit’s pen was perfect in Game One.

        • WBBsAs

          Small sample size.

          • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

            Right, but so was your sample size for Game Two. ;)

          • WBBsAs

            They’ve proved it over the season…

  • foul tip

    USA today says “veteran” Dodger players grousing about Mattingly shortcomings, specifically 45 minutes before Game 4 of the Division Series.

    Yet article quotes a “high-ranking Dodgers executive” saying he’s safe and will be extended: Said if team hadn’t won the DS he might be out. (Any guesses on who “exec” is?)

    If that’s the case that pic a few days back of DM and Uribe hugging, saying they had saved each other’s jobs, might be more than feel-good speculation.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/dodgers/2013/10/14/dodgers-backs-against-the-wall/2978431/

  • foul tip

    Ryu couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to go down in Dodger history as a hero.

    • Bob_Hendley

      Lima time!

  • ASW1

    Vintage Tube: Vin Scully interviews Sandy Koufax, ‘the fella who gave the Dodgers the championship’ in ’65:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/vintage-tube-vin-scully-interviews-sandy-koufax-fella-170547827–mlb.html

  • RBI

    Getting geared up, literally and figuratively, to go to the stadium. I keep reminding myself that we are one of the last four teams standing, and I never in a million years thought we’d get here last June. These past two games with their managerial frustrations, injuries, and lack of timely offense, have been a microcosm of the first two months. Who knows, maybe we can also mirror the next three with the next three, and beyond. Either way, I plan on enjoying the heck out of the game today.

    • scooplew

      Have a great time and root us on to victory.

  • RBI

    Hanley has a hairline rib fracture. Ouch! Talk about tough – he played thirteen innings with that thing.

    • scooplew

      I think it would be an act of great courage for him to play today and likely not the wisest thing to do.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT

  • thescrounger

    We know what we’ll get from Punto, I’d favor starting Gordon and praying for a miracle.